Big Dipper Solstice

For my father, December 21st was one of the most important days of the year. In the northern hemisphere, this date marks the start of winter. For Dad, the Winter Solstice didn’t represent the launch of winter so much as the promise of brighter days ahead. Though the night is longest, we begin gaining daylight after the moment of solstice. This was the promise that mattered. Brighter moments and longer days leading to the hope of Spring.

As close as I was to Dad, it was hard to be away from him on the Winter Solstice. That’s why it became a day to find a way to connect with him—no matter where in the world I was living. In 1993, when my husband and I were living in Alaska where Tom was stationed on military duty, Dad and I made a Big Dipper promise for the Winter Solstice. Each of us would step outside at a designated time (accounting for the three-hour time zone difference) and gaze at the Big Dipper. This way, we could share a star-gazing experience across thousands of miles.

I will never forget that night in North Pole standing in my snow boots in our yard on Bear Avenue. Miles of wilderness stretched beyond the few homes in our remote neighborhood so the skies were black except for hundreds of stars shining all around. I set my sights on the Big Dipper—also known as Ursa Major or the Great Bear—and held it there knowing that Dad was doing the same thing under clear skies outside of Westfield, Wisconsin. And we stargazed together….

The word, solstice means the point at which the Sun seems to stand still. Certainly on that night, time did seem to stand still under the Big Dipper. What a cool thing we did (no pun intended) to arrange this experience to bring us closer together, father and daughter.

Keeping Nature Central has that kind of magic. It can help us create memories that last a lifetime. I’ve got my own proof. Though Dad died three years after our Big Dipper Solstice, he is with me as long as I can see the stars of the Big Dipper overhead—and what a timeless gift that has been! Yes, life does seem to stand still every now and then. But, my best bet is that when it happens, Nature is wonderfully central. How are you experiencing the magic of Keeping Nature Central?